CLEVELAND — Poll workers are the neighbors who guide you through the voting process each Election Day. Historically they tend to be older and retired — those more at risk in a pandemic. If they didn't feel comfortable returning this election, that's understandable, but Secretary of State Frank LaRose said they need to know.
"You don't want to be in that situation where you're having somebody who doesn't show up for work on Tuesday morning November 3, you need to have somebody to call to fill that place,” LaRose said.
So he gave the state's 88 county election boards a recruitment goal, and it wasn't just to fill the 37,000 positions needed to open the polls.
"We've told the boards of elections they have to recruit 150% of their normal numbers. If you normally have 1,000 poll workers for your county, you really need to have 1,500 trained and ready to go this year,” said LaRose.
To help, the state went after veterans with a Second Call to Duty appeal, high school seniors with "Youth at the Booth," non-profits looking for a way to fundraise, accountants and lawyers can use their work for continuing education credits. They even got Ohio brewers to put appeals on the back of beer cans and they put each county's numbers out with a poll worker tracker.
"This is an accountability tool, I'm not hiding from that,” he said. “You can see which counties are doing well, you can see which counties are a little bit behind, and if that will provide some motivation to catch up, well then that's fine."
The result is a new record for committed poll workers.
As a percentage of their goal, these counties are furthest away from meeting the goal of poll workers set by Secretary LaRose: Ashland County, Hocking County, Pike County, Greene County, and Jackson County. By quantity, Summit County remains the furthest away from meeting its goal with 837 more poll workers needed.
Interested workers can check their local county Board of Election websites for details.